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content management systems Archives - Syneka Marketing

Presentation to the Rotary Club of Montrose and District

By | Advice, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Presentations | No Comments

The Rotary Club of Montrose and District meets at Club Kilsyth on Wednesday evenings and provides a service club for the surrounding areas.

The Rotary Club of Montrose and District does not currently have a website, but is actively considering an Internet presence. Several of the board members are keen to harness the Internet to assist in promoting the Club and its activities.

This evening I discussed the Club’s thoughts on the Internet and the need to provide a consistent image in all forms of communication, including the Club’s future web presence. Internet websites need to be viewed as a marketing exercise, with the Club discussing the image they wish to promote across their activities.

Part of the discussion also focused on media releases and it is important for community organisations to speak to relevant forms of media, such as local newspapers or local radio, to discuss upcoming events.

Proactive public relations is important for community organisations and media releases should be circulated to relevant media, as well as included on the website. When someone visits a website they often check to see whether the site is regularly updated. This ensures that the content is relevant and the organisation is being proactive in its activities.

The ability to easily update content was another key point of discussion. Content management systems, enable several differing permissions for administrators, enabling designated members with the ability to write content but ensuring that it won’t be publicly available until it is approved by a suitable member of the Club.

It is anticipated that the Rotary Club of Montrose and District will have a web presence shortly, once the desired layout and initial content has been finalized.

Preventing spam without deterring genuine visitors

By | Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News | No Comments

Spam is unfortunately far too common on the Internet, arising in forum posts, instant messaging, email and websites. Spam otherwise known as ‘junk’, is unsolicited/unwanted content and will often take the form of advertising or include malicious intent.

Like email, websites can also suffer from spam, particularly when they encourage interactivity from visitors. This is why many sites now require verification when registering or submitting content, either via email or through what is known as image verification.

Most spam is sent via spambots, automated customer systems that write content and distribute this unwanted content.

CAPTCHA is the technical term for automated technology that helps prevent spam. The most common form of CAPTCHA is that of typing text that appears within an image, known as image verification.

While the prevention of spam is necessary to reduce administrative overhead and should be utilized, it is important that user friendliness is not sacrificed.

If a genuine visitor has difficulty interacting with your website due to these spam prevention techniques, then in most cases they will simply find another site to fulfill their requirements.

The level of perseverance a visitor has will depend on their commitment to your product or service and the uniqueness or popularity of your offering. This is because most visitors understand that highly popular sites will be likely targets for spambots and hence will have a higher level of tolerance.

Just recently I was encouraged to participate in an online poll, the poll asked a series of questions and required the verification of text within an image to successfully submit these answers.

Unfortunately the content within the image was obscure and extremely difficult to read. After six attempts in trying to decipher the image, the form finally accepted my input.

While I persevered because the poll was about an issue that is important to me, had this been any other website I would not have persisted. That being said, the site was lucky that I was finally able to decipher the text on the sixth attempt because it was very likely I was not going to try for the seventh time.

The site is not entirely to blame, spambots have been able to decipher image verification and thus CAPTCHA now means increasingly obscure text, which not only makes it difficult for machines to interpret but also difficult for genuine visitors.

Yes, spambots are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to overcome spam prevention techniques, but it is worth considering the balance between prevention and deterring interaction with genuine site visitors.

While there is definitely a role for CAPTCHA techniques in preventing spam, it is worth considering other methods of spam prevention, particularly methods that prevent spambots from visiting your website in the first instance.

Various methods exist to prevent spambots from even being able to visit your website. This has advantages since these methods act as a gateway, preventing these systems from accessing your site in the first instance, thus reducing site traffic from non-genuine visitations.

Linux based webhosts, typically use Apache as a web server, which utilities the .htaccess file, which controls various parameters of a website, including who can access the site. This can be used to prevent automated spambots from even entering your site. Likewise solutions, such as Bad Behaviour, work in a similar fashion, through blocking spambots from entering your website in the first instance.

Should a spambot enter your site, most blog and content management systems can include blacklisting of certain terms, meaning they are automatically rejected, or a greylist, which requires authorization before being published. These greylists can often be set to require prior approval to any comments that include links to other sites, a common tactic used by spambots.

Most content management systems and blogging software will also support plugins some of which can provide further protection against spam providing additional safeguards.

Alternatives to image verification exist, such as the asking a question, which must be answered correctly to submit content (example: what is 1+1?). This has accessibility advantages, since image or audio based verification can be difficult to utilize from a usability perspective, although they do offer a higher degree of prevention.

No method of preventing spam will yield a 100% success rate. The key is to prevent spam as much as possible while not restricting genuine visitors from interacting and participating in your website.

Inaugural Eastern Volunteers Community Conference – Day Two

By | Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News | 2 Comments

The second day of the Eastern Volunteers Community conference explored the themes of managing volunteers, volunteering diversity, as well as supporting people with mental illness and engaging community engagement.

The conference opened with an address by the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS), which explored the challenges in creating social inclusion during economic uncertainty. The presentation highlighted the difficulties the community sector is facing, particularly in regard to ensuring funding certainty and maintaining a focus on the core vision of an organisation.

I delivered a plenary session focused on harnessing the changing times faced by community organisations through embracing technology and building capacity through governance and professional development.

There is a need for strong governance and consistent policies that are supported through the adherence of procedures. All levels of government, as well as many philanthropic organisations, are expecting increasing levels of governance and accountability from the not-for-profit sector.

Strong governance is critical to creating an environment that harnesses the potential of an organisation and fosters its development. This creates a positive environment for volunteers, as well as staff and board members.

Data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics demonstrates that less are volunteering on a per capita basis and that they are volunteering less of their time. In addition, there is a substantial gap between the rate of volunteering within rural areas versus our capital cities, with volunteering being less common in urban centres.

This demonstrates the strength of community identity, which is more commonplace within rural areas. Given that establishing this sense of community is more difficult within largely homogeneous urban centres, there is a need for innovation.

This is where community organisations need to explore the use of technology, such as interactive websites, using Web 2.0 technology like blogs and Facebook, to establish a new sense of community. Virtual communities are particularly useful in recruiting younger volunteers, who are often seeking opportunities to further their experiences within particular projects.

Younger people tend to be project focused rather than organisational focused and as a result community organisations need to tailor the way they attempt to recruit volunteers.

Technology such as wikis, which allows editable content, can be utilized to retain knowledge within an organisation through encouraging staff and volunteers to document their experiences and freely share information.

The use of technology should not increase the workload of an organisation, but instead should help automate some tasks. As an example, web based content management systems, can replicate web-content onto social networking tools such as Facebook, encouraging interactivity without requiring duplication or increasing workloads.

The conference concluded with positive feedback and a desire from participants for further events. There is strong interest in the sharing of knowledge and it was great that the participants found the conference to be informative and useful.
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